BEEKMANTOWN — Desire Sydnor’s love of football began at age 11, playing pickup games on the playground during recess with the boys.
In middle school, when Beekmantown Central School’s modified football coaches heard Sydnor wanted to join the team, they joked with her about it when they passed her in the hall.
“I guess they thought it was a kind of joke,” the 16-year-old said.
But at the end of sixth grade, as Sydnor handed her mother her report card, she told her she was going to try out for the team.
Her mother, Kelly Sydnor, refused to allow it, but Desire didn’t back down.
“I was, like, ‘If you don’t sign my papers (to join the team) I’m going to purposely fail (school) until you do,” she remembers telling her mother.
Eventually, Mrs. Sydnor gave in.
Desire’s father, George, asked her, “Why can’t you just play soccer?”
But he got used to the idea and drove Desire to get her number and last name printed on her jersey.
While her fellow teammates quickly adjusted to having a girl on the team, that wasn’t always the case for certain players from opposing teams that Desire encountered during games.
“Some guys would be like, ‘That’s a girl. I’m not going to touch her,’” she said.
Others would have the opposite reaction and would try to tackle her more than her teammates, she said.
LIMITED PLAYING TIME
Though Desire worked hard in practice, she spent most game time on the bench.
“They definitely didn’t use me to my full potential,” she said.
Her lack of time on the field often frustrated her, but it never held her back. She missed only one practice in her six seasons on the football team.
Her sophomore year, she even hid a sprained wrist so she wouldn’t be banned from practicing with the team, according to doctor’s orders, she said.